“The First Fruits of the Spirit”
The Bible says, “And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith — and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God — not by works, so that no one can boast” (Ephesians 2:6_9).
All the other religions with their gods and goddesses do count people’s sins against them. Reconciliation is difficult, if not impossible. But Christians understand that the true God of heaven is one who is full of compassion and mercy. Even in the Old Testament we read: “And [the Lord] passed in front of Moses, proclaiming, ‘The Lord, the Lord, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin” (Exodus 34:6_7).
God wants to be reunited with us more than we want to be reconciled with him. And the cost of this reconciliation is free — paid for by the offended party. This is the central and defining element of the Christian faith. God’s love and forgiveness cannot be earned — it comes as a free gift.
Having a relationship with God does not depend on how well we do or how perfect we are. It is based solely on the mercy and grace of God.
Phil Yancey writes, “Grace means there is nothing we can do to make God love us more.... And grace means there is nothing we can do to make God love us less.”
The guilt and condemnation is gone and a settled peace comes upon our hearts as we realize we don’t have to do anything to gain God’s acceptance — we already have it.
Our relationship with God is not based on how good we are, but on the character of a gracious and forgiving God who loves us more than we can ever understand.
Wesley ended his sermon by saying, “We have nothing to fear. ‘Fear that has to do with punishment’ we have no need of it. When we love the One who loves us, it is enough. More love produces more strength. And it’s when we love Him with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength we will be “mature and complete, lacking in nothing.”
The first-fruits of the Spirit are simply this…our forgiven sins; yesterday’s, today’s, and tomorrow’s – given without condemnation. In the name of Jesus Christ, we are forgiven! Amen!